Ok, I get it…I get it, finally! You’re not a colour, you’re all of them. Like white light – the very presence of colour. 

Always there, an amalgam of everything. 

White – Shining, clean, clear, aloof sometimes, but that’s good – maybe being at a slight distance gives us something to strive towards.  I realise now that you’re not a colour, you’re all of them, all of it. All of everything. You manage to be all things everywhere. 

Something to eat, something to drink, something to write on, something to look at, something to stick it up with, something in case you make a mistake. Love expressed through little handwritten notes.

Always making me question – like my first grown up book. Yes, but what’s it really about? Really. What’s it all about?

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Mix them all together to get the pure, the white, you taught me that too. Or did I teach you that? The lines are blurring these days. Possibly not completely all seeing and knowing, even with the proverbial eyes in the back of the head, but what mother really is?

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad”, but then, like Jon Berger, they encourage you in your ways of seeing. Shape, mould, steer, even manage (maybe one day, god willing).

As a mother myself now, I realise this –  as in art, so in motherhood, create something, nurture it, make it whole, round it out. Manners, ethics, manners, literature, manners, humour, sense of self, manners, medieval history and socio economic development from the renaissance to the industrial revolution, manners, all those things we need to learn. And in return? You are our rainbow, all the things we actually do need, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and how to iron a shirt. Properly. Including the sleeves.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet = White.

Thank you for showing me the light. X x x

White Freshwater Pearl Colour Theory Necklace

White Pearl Necklace. Freshwater pearls with mother of pearl. Handmade sterling silver clasp. Approx length 16″.

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The Texture of Cream

The Texture of Cream

Easy to get on with, gregarious, cream goes with everything, in any situation. On a family holiday to Disney land, out to lunch at the Peninsula, to the beach with the relatives from Ireland, for tea and cake at the park, a foil for all the other colours. 

But now I realise you’re not a colour, cream. You’re a texture. Or texture itself. The first thing that comes to mind is warmth. The depth and warmth of a sheepskin rug, the textured pattern of a cable knit, an arran sweater, heavy. Not cloying, but heavy enough to feel it’s comforting weight.  Supporting and cosseting when you need the comfort, and sometime whether you need it or not. Or perhaps when you don’t even realise you need it. Perhaps a wake up call that the warmth and the comfort are necessary? Even if we don’t want them. If you were a colour, you’d definitely be cream, but that’s only because of all the scarves, rugs and jumpers, the sheepskins. 

It’s more than the colour, it’s the texture of it. Gentle, warm, comforting, cosseting…once I thought it was too much, but now I appreciate the support – like holding space, helping me to breathe, when I didn’t even realise the space and the breath were missing. 

Maybe missing on both sides? See a need, fill a need. On both sides.

Relax and let someone in. On both sides.

This could be boiled down to one word, support. On both sides.

This hasn’t been the first of these essays to make me cry, but it has been the first of this series that I’ve written with tears streaming throughout. I told you I didn’t know what colour you were, but then I remembered, the realisation came that it’s not colour, it’s the warmth itself, the warmth.

It’s texture.

If it could be a colour it would be cream mostly. But not the fresh kind though…you can have too much of that. A love shown and expressed through food, prawns in the main.

Again, how does it take an exploration of colour to make me realise something I hadn’t noticed before about my own life, or a family member? Warmth…hugs, rugs, curtains, soft furnishings in general, all the things I generally eschew.


So now this one is interesting, where others inspire colour and I realise my perception of them is tied up with and selected as a colour – this one is definitely a texture. Sheepskin is too warm, too soft, too supportive, resisted for so long, deemed overly cosseting, but now the realisation that this creamy colour is more than just that, It has form. It’s woolly!

Perhaps this might be the next direction – texture?

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Pretty French Vintage Grey

Pretty French Vintage Grey

Grey – that pretty French vintage grey, worn out and comfortable. It’s everywhere, ubiquitous, very calm and the perfect foil for anything you want to put with it. 

It comes to me, sleepless in the middle of the night, in a French hotel room, That lovely Paris Grey…ahhh Annie Sloan, you found my family, you found my babies. It takes me back to those first years. There’s no colour, no sleep, tired in the middle of the night….so tired. 

So tired. 

When the light’s gone, when everything has that uniform shade of grey, you can see, but there’s no colour at all. 

So tired. 

So tired, so sleepy, feeding and falling asleep. Wanting to be so careful, they’re tiny, but you’re so tired and everything is so grey, there’s no light. 

But at the same time, it’s perfect. It’s just us. We’re safe, we’re warm, we’re together.

It’s everywhere. Pretty French vintage grey. We recognise it during the day, that colour of the night, the comfort in the fact that it is everywhere, it really is ubiquitous, it’s the colour of the “noughties”.  It’s the fashion shade de jour for interiors, it’s so familiar, like the family should be, like all this should be. Such as it is, we fall into it, it’s what we’re here for. It’s the only reason we’re here. That instinct, that feeling of creating something incredible.

If I look back, my own mother’s love for me might just as easily be wrapped up in that ghastly 70’s orange.  Arghhh, the curtains. But this is my version of motherhood, it’s about my kids, but in reality it’s not about my kids at all. It’s purely about that sense of motherhood. My perception of motherhood. It’s wrapped up in them, but it’s not them. It came about as a result of them. This level of perception, this appreciation of a shade, or shades. hitherto overlooked completely. I’d tried before of course, with the pretty French vintage grey, but I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t yet see it properly.  A Ghost V neck, didn’t much tick the boxes for the original mother, handed down to the next. Not quite right there either. Perhaps the baton should now be passed back, that colour would suit perfectly now. Would you like it back?


Granite Necklace Teaser made from textured grey larbadorite square slabs
Grey Labradorite Necklace

Amazing how when that perception shifts, there’s a realisation of how solid grey can be. Like the Forth bridge. Massive, Secure, Safe. Relentless even. Supportive, but all in the background, cleverly hiding it’s light under a bushel and allowing itself to act as a foil. That’s love, that’s what pretty French vintage grey is. Love.

There’s a pink one and a blue one, but I love them best in the middle of the night, when they’re both grey. When I check on them before I go to bed, when it’s just me and them – just how it started. Just a mother and a child, in the night, in the greyness, safe and warm, together. Or if I get up in the night to see if they’re ok – because I heard a noise, or had a dream, or just because. Then I check and I realise we’re all safe and warm, and grey in the dark together. Then the peace comes over me. They look like angels when they’re asleep and I remember when they were tiny. It takes me back to that knife edge between good grey and the deeper grey beneath. It’s a tightrope, to embrace the grey, but not to end up under the bell jar.

Guys, you’re not just a colour…you’re everything. I can’t distill it to a shade, a tone. It’s more than that. My life is your lives, and your lives are my life. We’re wrapped up together. We always will be, in my head, in my heart. You’ll find your own tribe later and won’t need me in the same way, but I’ll be here and I’ll be any colour you want.

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Work in Progress

In direct response to the original premise of the exhibition – ” Work in Progress ” , the arts being under attack in education – I’d like to make the following point. There is the old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. And also the quote that “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde.

I don’t think that art education has the ability to produce creativity that was not there in the first place. Of course it provides a valuable grounding in the theory and the mechanics of all facets of art, but the spark has to be there in some way, before it can be kindled. I’d love books such as John Berger’s “Ways of seeing” to be required reading in schools in the same way that ‘An Inspector Calls” is. Education in the arts can be a massive eye opener for many, but how much basic art education is necessary for those who genuinely don’t have a creative bone in their body? I feel that art education’s most valuable asset, both in schools and in tertiary education, is time. Time to think, to reflect, to produce without expectation, to mess up, in a way that other facets of education don’t posses. They are more concerned with skills and information. With art education, the nurturing of something that people very often don’t realize themselves that they have is so important. For many it’s the feeling that there is something that needs to be said, in the same way as writing, which might come after the realization that this is important to them. It might never occur to the individual that they have something worth giving or saying, it needs to be coaxed out of them, and in a society that doesn’t always value that as much as the financial benefits of other paths, that can be a struggle to find in the first place. So much can be repressed and squashed by the time we get to our teenage years, when doodling and musings have to give way to serious work. Doodling and musings ARE serious work.

I’m aware that I’ve been extremely lucky to have had the arts education that I have, through GCSE, A levels and then five years at art college. And everything I’ve learned since. Along with the support from my parents and family to spend time on what often must seem like a selfish exercise – I’m eternally grateful for my early creative education, with input from very different teachers, who variously taught me about colour -Miss Rabey, about tone and shading – Mrs Susanne White, and one who let me cut pictures out of magazines for whole double lessons, without ever saying it was a waste of time. Possibly the most valuable thing I ever learned to do. Yay for Miss Sarah Nicolle.

My Own Personal Rainbow

My Own Personal Rainbow –  Why do we sometimes become so staid in our choices of colours? Some colours are obviously more wearable than others, depending on our skin tones, hair colour etc, but many of us covet colour and never wear it, are we missing the benefits, the mood enhancing value of an uplifting shirt, dress or tie? Or even a notepad, a coffee mug – we don’t always have to wear it. This can have an effect on those around us too, not just on ourselves. Don’t we owe it to ourselves and society to take steps to boost our mood with our palette when we get dressed, and present ourselves?

For this project I’ve decided to go old school and work in a sketchbook, using pens, scalpels, glue and photocopied images. No digital here, I’ve taken photos and made studies of the colours, then used those images to directly translate into the necklaces. I do usually use precious metals in my work, but simply for their colour – precious and semi precious stones are hard to beat. 3D artists still need a grounding in 2D, so I usually start with colour images and build up from there, but I rarely sketch in 2D, I usually prefer to make models, but for this project I again found myself just using the pictures as a kind of palette. Something that I’ve done for a few years subconsciously, and in the last three years I have made a feature of. I originally wanted to explore the use of colour and how it, along with texture, changes our perception of objects. I found, however that it became much more personal than that. I’ve been inspired by my own art education, starting with Miss Rabey at the Girl’s Grammar school in 1984. I wanted to go back to my childhood and look again through that same prism, to see if I could get to the base of my colour perception, and how it set me on my journey. My own colour theory.

This exhibition presented the opportunity to really examine my own response to colour, and along the way it bought up a few things that I’d previously not considered fully. I worked in a fashion boutique as a teenager, and during my University years, immersed in fashion as much as you can be on an eternal students budget. Colour had always been a large part of my College work, and when I finished college and started to market my work, I quickly realized that although colour attracts lots of attention, it doesn’t always sell. There is an established commercial path, via websites, galleries, stalls and events, even etsy shops, where I’ve found this to be true. Exhibitions allow a certain sense of freedom from the constraints of selling my work, so it’s always a welcome medium in which to have free rein. I love to use sparkle in my work, but subtle colour is what sells.

As a visual artist I’m always fascinated when people ask the question “Where do you get your inspiration from? “ I want to say, “Step outside and look around you.” (Actually I see colours when my eyes are closed, and I often dream in colours, but I digress). At this time of year how can you fail to help but notice all the colours, and the new shapes emerging? How can you not be inspired by nature’s amazing and beautiful combinations? Green leaves against a blue sky. Yellow petals against brown earth. Greenery was the starting point for this. Looking out of the window at the start of the project back in February. And realizing I was responding to colour in a certain way. Why do we do this, here should come the science, but instead I’ve decided to be more personal that that. Ultimately the way we process colour is completely personal and individual, scientifically.

We have certain ingrained responses to particular colours, red=danger, Green makes us feel clean, new fresh, synonymous with new life and spring growth. I wonder how much of the effects of colour can be political, party colours, football colours, school uniform colours. Even red lipstick during the war years.

The background picture to many of these colour studies is a sunrise I photographed from my house in January 2016, which has influenced so much of my work in the last 18 months. Containing purple, pale prison pink, baby blue, the new black, safe navy, fiery red and yellow, as well as greys. Absolutely all my favourite colours – but no sign of greenery. That new usurper. No wonder I love to gaze at this photo while I work. I’m looking at my life illustrated in colour. All these colour studies, the essays, had been already completed, before I put the sketch book together, but I realize this for absolutely the first time only as I type this, my stream of consciousness that has been committed to type on 13th May 2017. This first essay, my personal rainbow, has been written as a post script to the rest. So how is that possible that I only see that now, that I only just realized that all these colours are present in that one photo that I love so much? I genuinely can see all those colours in the picture, together as if for the first time. But they are all my own colour history, my personal journey through colour theory, my own made up version of colour theory. This is what I realize I’ve learned through the 33 years since that very first colour theory lesson in the sunny art studio with Miss Rabey in September 1984.

The whole circle of the rainbow seems complete, my own personal rainbow.

This essay was written as a part of our colour theory essay collection – to read them all click here. We have also had the pleasure of being involved with exhibitions where we have displayed our colour theory work such as Perceptions 2017 at the Harbour Gallery in Jersey.